The word “nut” as it refers to food, is widely used throughout the world. Some uses of the word are correct, while others are, technically, incorrect. Probably aware of this fact Esteemed Reader, you ask yourself, “are cashews nut”?
This article will answer the question for you. This is an important topic, especially to allergic people, because nut allergy is one of the commonest allergies. Advice and recommendations pertaining to allergies will be offered.
We will go deeper into the discussion on whether cashews are nuts. But we begin by listing the products that are helpful for allergy symptoms that can occur sporadically or recurrently.
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Esteemed Reader you may be enquiring about cashews because you are one of the billions of people who experience allergy symptoms and signs.
You may be enquiring because you are worried you could get those health problems from handling ± consumption of cashews. Or you may already have experienced allergic manifestations after coming into contact with cashews. Either way, it is important that you have the below over-the-counter medications ready to help you and / or your loved ones in future.
#Ad Antihistamines, Sedating type
Chlorpheniramine ER tablets
#Ad Antihistamines, Non-sedating type Cetirizine tablets
WHAT ARE NUTS?
According to Wikipedia, “a nut is a fruit composed of an inedible hard shell and a seed, which is generally edible”. Typical and well-known nuts include acorns and hazelnuts. Pictures of acorn and hazelnuts are presented below, respectively:
WHAT IS CASHEWS?
Cashews are fruits that grow on an evergreen tree. The tree has the Scientific name Anacardium occidentale. Anacardium is the Scientific “surname” of the plant.
The cashew tree is of varying sizes. But the shortest of the trees are the most favourite because they are good from a business point of view, with very good yields and ripening times. Pictured below are cashews.
Cashews are indigenous to South and Central America (especially Brazil) and the Carribbean Islands. But 500 years ago, the Portuguese took the plants to Asia, where they spread extensively, eventually reaching Africa.
The “true fruits” of the cashew tree, as pictured above, grow at the tip of yet another fruit (below picture). This other fruit is also a food and beverage source. Each flower produces one fruit.
Cashews are called nuts in the culinary sense. But from a Botanical (Biological or Scientific) point, they are NOT nuts, as has been illustrated. They do not have an inedible hard shell.
CASHEW HEALTH BENEFITS
The chemical composition of cashews is very beneficial to health. But in order to be able to consume them, cashews have to undergo a preparation process that includes roasting (see cashew allergy below).
1. Cashews contain a lot of nutritious protein.
2. Cashews are very good for the heart as they have absolutely NO CHOLESTEROL. Rather, they have plenty of fatty acids suitable for the heart.
3. Cashews can protect against cancer and infections as they have a high content of antioxidants and immuneboosters.
4. Cashews also make the constituents of bile more soluble, thus protecting against the formation of gallstones.
The commonest cause of allergic reaction to cashews, is from RAW CASHEWS. These contain anarcadic acid, a chemical named after the tree’s “surname”. Anarcadic acid is a very strong irritant that causes allergic manifestations especially in the skin.
Related plants have similar allergy causing chemicals. An example of such a related plant is the poison ivy.
The potency of the allergen in cashews is neutralized by a process of roasting and cleaning. Therefore dear Reader, never eat or come into contact with raw cashews. Only use processed or roasted ones.
True cashew allergy does exist though. But it is much less common than the well known allergy to true nuts (especially those from trees) and to peanuts (groundnut).
What can you do in order to further ascertain whether you or your loved ones have true cashew allergy?
There are Allergy Tests that can help with this. The tests differ in their “strength” and cost. Among the tests are:
. Skin prick tests – affordable
. RAST (Radio Allergo-Sorbent Test) – can be very expensive, but is much more useful.
Allergy testing has the advantage of identifying substances that you may have not even been aware you are allergic to. So if you have known nut allergy, it can identify (if afforded) all the nuts you are allergic to. It can also identify false “nuts”, other foods, and indeed other substances.
For more on allergies and Allergy Testing, kindly see this article on this website.
Peanuts also need special mention. Like with cashews, people with nut allergy may not have trouble with peanuts; peanut allergy is a separate phenomenon. Please see this article for a detailed discussion of peanuts.
Cashews are, from a strict, Scientific, BOTANICAL point, NOT NUTS.
In ordinary language and in a culinary sense, they are considered nuts. This is simply because they have similar nutrients to true nuts.
Dear Reader if you are worried about consumption of cashews because of health concerns like allergy, there may be no need to worry. This applies for processed, roasted cashews. But there are ways to ascertain whether you have true cashew allergy, such as Allergy Testing as discussed above.
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